Ladies Night Presents Wristcutters: A Love Story

Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

Directed by Guran Dukic.

Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham and Tom Waits.

Zia ( Fugit ) is an average guy who has lost interest in living. He wakes one day, cleans his place and cuts his wrists. But, things don’t end there for Zia. It seems that whenever a person commits suicide, they go to a special afterlife. Everything is basically the same…just a little bit worse. Oh, and they have no stars and they cannot smile. Zia gets a job at Kamikaze Pizza and lives out his afterlife. He learns his old girlfriend, Desiree, killed herself, and he sets out with his friend Eugene ( Whigham ) to see her out. Along the way, they pick up Mikal ( Sossamon ), who is on her own mission, then they meet Kneller ( Waites ) and his happy little campers.

I’m sure I have mentioned my love for Tom Waits in the past. It was this love for Tommy W. that brought me to tonight’s feature. I usually stay far away from the love stories, but this one had the big T and it was called Wristcutters. How could I resist? Turns out that I really liked it bunches. I have made almost everybody I know watch it. Hell, I made Miss Directed watch it twice.

I liked so many things about this film, that I’m not sure where to begin. I thought the plot was a refreshingly different concept. It was based on a short story written by Etgar Keret called “Kneller’s Happy Campers”. I thought that it translated to film nicely. At no point in time did I feel like something was missing from the plot or storyline, and the characters were developed well. The acting was beautiful. All of the major players really brought their characters to life. It was a delight to watch.

The soundtrack was fantastic, and not just because the talented Mr. Waits starts the film with a little number called “Dead and Lovely”. There is another song on the soundtrack that I just can’t get enough of. “Through the Roof and Underground” is by a band called Gogol Bordello and it is repeated 3 or 4 times in the film. By the time the end credits rolled, I was hooked. I had to hear more of this Russian gypsy punk band, Gogol Bordello. Turns out I dig them, and I thank this film for having introduced me.

The subtle comedy of the film is another high point. From the scenes showing how the characters off-ed themselves, to Eugene's entire Russian family being in the suicide afterlife, to the blackhole under the passenger seat of the car, the on running chuckles are fun. Then there is Kneller, who runs a camp where small, insignificant miracles happen all the time. He is at odds with The Messiah, who promises a big significant miracle. One can see how this may pose a problem. All of these elements add to the appeal of this film. And at the end of the day, it was a well rounded, heartwarming love story.I highly recommend this film to everybody. Nothing about it disappointed me, and I feel pretty confidant that I will come back to this one over again.

Razor Blade Rating

I can’t tell you everyone will fall in love with this movie, but long after the credits roll, it will come up on your brain's view master. I thought it was just me at first, but after some discussion, turns out it sticks to everyone’s ribs. Part of this is the film's particular use of style which is very visually muted. The background has a “been here before” quality. When the threesome are driving the landscape seems repeat time and again. Every prop in the film from the cars to sunglasses, has been given a well used look. Even the road trip’s soundtrack is limited to one tape. All of the attention to detail gives the movie a patina that is both grimy and beautiful. Once more, until after you are done thinking about the wonderful story, you don’t even notice.

Everyone who I speak to about Wristcutters comes away with something different. There is the love story thread that runs thoughout giving it a structure which at first glance is not that much unlike a teen movie, but as the story unfolds, we find it is much more complex. Along the way the characters go on side trips, and each of their experiences informs the other. The author seems to be asking big questions, but I don’t want to go too deeply into the meanings I got from the film. Half the fun of this movie is putting the pieces together yourself.

Now you are thinking, this doesn’t sound like fun. Make no mistake, the humor is smart. Even when it seems random there was always a payoff waiting down the line, and the casting was downright prefect. Patrick Fugit was about the only thing that gave Almost Famous charm, so it was nice to see him in something that gave him some room to move. Shea Whigham plays his character perfectly, bringing humor to nearly every line he said. Then you add in Tom Waits. The three leads obviously had such a rapport that even a big personality like Waits is easily folded into the mix.

I can’t say enough about how great this movie is and the longer I think about it the better it gets. I would like to thank Fran for sharing it with me. This is one of those films that would be easy to miss, if you don’t know the right people.

Razor Blade Rating

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